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Off to the races: The "Virginia Way"

The party of off-shore tax havens? “The Republican Party is expected to approve a resolution this week, calling for repeal of an Obama administration law that is designed to crack down on offshore tax dodging,” Reuters writes. “In what would be the party's first appeal to scrap the law - the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) - a panel was slated to vote at the Republican National Committee's (RNC) winter meetings in Washington, likely approving the resolution on Friday, according to party members driving the repeal effort. If adopted, the anti-FATCA resolution would reflect the party's political priorities for the time being but would not change its presidential campaign platform, according to the RNC. Approved in 2010 after a tax-avoidance scandal involving a Swiss bank, FATCA requires most foreign banks and investment funds to report to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service information about U.S. customers' accounts worth $50,000 or more.”

USA Today explains a bit more: “The secret Swiss bank account is no longer what is used to be. For years the accounts were the basis of plots both real and imagined in which people hid cash to avoid the taxman or the police if the gains were from crime. But prior to a midnight New Year's Eve deadline, many of the Swiss banks agreed to divulge to the U.S. government which Americans have accounts here to avoid prosecution on charges of helping them evade taxes.”

CALIFORNIA: “California Governor Jerry Brown, in his state of the state speech on Wednesday, is expected to address problems of drought and economic recovery while continuing to call on fellow Democrats to embrace fiscal restraint,” Reuters writes, adding, “He is likely to address such issues as the drought plaguing the notoriously thirsty state, as well as California's recovering economy and budget, said Mark Baldassare, chief executive officer of the Public Policy Institute of California.”

Political Wire: “Neel Kashkari (R), who led the bank bailout during the Bush administration, announced his bid to unseat California Gov. Jerry Brown (D), the Sacramento Bee reports.” 

FLORIDA: “President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign chief, Jim Messina, has joined the Florida gubernatorial campaign of Charlie Crist in a sign that the Democratic party is gearing up for a big political battle to win the state in 2014,” Reuters reports, adding, “Teddy Goff, digital director for the president's re-election campaign, who oversaw its social media and online advertising efforts, is also joining Crist's campaign. Crist leads Scott in the polls but lags well behind in fundraising.” The primary in this race is Aug. 26. 

NEW YORK: “New York Governor Andrew Cuomo laid out details on Tuesday of his plan for nearly $8 billion of property tax freezes and corporate tax cuts over the next five years,” Reuters writes. “In presenting his $137 billion proposed budget for fiscal 2015 to lawmakers, Cuomo, a Democrat up for re-election this year, kept most spending relatively flat. Limiting state spending would lead to a projected $2.2 billion surplus within three years to help pay for tax programs and universal day-long pre-kindergarten.” 

USA Today: “New York appears to be getting universal preschool but not the [Bill de Blasio-proposed] tax [on the wealthy]. On Tuesday, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo did an end run around the mayor when he unveiled a state budget that would fund full-day universal pre-K statewide, spending $1.5 billion over five years out of general funds. "The state will pay for it, and the state will be proud to pay for it,'' Cuomo said. 

VIRGINIA: Democrat Jennifer Wexton won the state Senate seat vacated by Democrat Mark Herring, who became attorney general, 53%-38%. That’s significant because if Democrats hold onto a Norfolk area seat to replace Democrat Ralph Northam, the will control the state Senate. That race is undergoing a recount with the Democrat up by just nine votes out of more than 20,000.

The Washington Post editorial page says that the “Virginia Way” has to change, as Bob McDonnell has become the first governor in its storied history to face criminal charges.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Although he proved a governor of consequence, history will remember the scandal more than it remembers his accomplishments regarding transportation, education and the restoration of the voting rights of non-violent offenders. This is a bleak moment for the McDonnells and for all Virginians.”